Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Short Punch. Long Reach.

It seems like a common reaction to expressing worries about China that the China-threat skeptics will say it will take a long time for China to become a global power. Strategypage notes the rather sad Russian-Chinese maneuvers and concludes:

What this all shows is that the Chinese have a way to go before they possess a world class military. The hyped up headlines in the media (and Pentagon budget requests) represent a future threat that is not here yet, and may take a long, long time in arriving.

I don't disagree with one word of that conclusion, really. And I've been vocal in saying I'd never want to trade places with China. But China can be a threat to us long before they are a superpower with global reach. China is a threat if they can project decisive power 500 miles from their borders, as the simmering crisis between China and Japan over oil deposits in disputed waters shows. The Chinese are drilling and deploying military forces to protect them. Japan is not amused:

Negotiations have gone nowhere, and now Japan has been holding talks with the U.S. over military options. Japan is apparently ready to use force, for they have given a Japanese company a license to drill for oil in the same area the Chinese are operating. Japan would provide armed escorts for the Japanese drilling and construction teams.

In World War II, neither Japan nor Germany (and certainly not Italy) were global powers. Yet they were threatening enough, were they not? Get over the idea that a threat is only a threat if it can reach St. Louis. And really, if the Chinese get their way within 500 miles of China against our allies, the impact will reach St. Louis.